Monday, August 31, 2009

Clippy's log - page 41

27/8 5:15pm. Snacks are brought round and Midga opts for a cookie - expecting something like the Coffee HQ ones at home. What he gets is almost exactly spekulaas - just without the cinnamon flavour. It's called a Biscoff, and has Delta's logo on it. Interesting.

5:50pm. A few random thoughts about England before we forget them all. They seem paranoid about fire - fire exits, fire extinguishers and fire plans are very prominent in most buildings. They love informality - almost all printed signs are written in a conversational tone instead of the stilted brevity we see at home. Smoking is a lot more widespread, but cigarette butts on the ground are rare. Badly behaved kids are everywhere, but the parents (even the ones covered with tattoos and surgically attached to their beer cans) don't swear at them but confine themselves to "If you don't sit down I'm going to lose my temper". That probably means anti-spanking laws (or at least sentiments) have been around longer. The trains (you knew I was going to get onto this) are not necessarily better run than ours, although the main intercity ones certainly are, but the average attitude of the staff is a lot nicer - they actually seem to care, almost all the time. Australian railway thinking is still predominantly British, but we have small pockets of progressiveness (eg Perth) and they don't, as far as I could see. Almost all the good things I saw on the rail system were nothing to do with good ideas we need to copy, but merely proof that if you spend real money you can give real service. Also that if you try to do things you shouldn't (eg two tiers on a single pair of tracks) you pay the consequences, no matter how well managed your system.

6:26pm. Touch down at Detroit, quite a good landing for an A320. We hear the usual message "Thanks for choosing us and we hope to see you again soon" - to which Rosuav responds "Thanks for being the cheapest and you'll see us next time you get us the best deal for where and when we want to fly!"

6:40pm. We're off the plane and have to transit from gate A8 to gate A54. Let's burn it up, we take off in half an hour. The travelators are nice and wide, and have a yellow line painted down the middle with "Stand" on the right and "Walk on the left". I like!!! Of course they drive on the wrong side of the road but we can bear that.

6:43pm. A sign says this way to the "express tram". Remembering Florida we're suspicious, but hey, if it gets us there faster it's all good. We go upstairs where it says and there's the familiar nose of a Citadis! Woohoo! It pulls out just as we approach, but the PIDS shows... 3min 31sec to the next service. Yes, accurate to the second. And it also shows exactly where the two trams are on the line, on a YT Control Centre like LED display. When it shows 35 seconds, the next tram pulls in. Automatic doors on the platform open in sync with the tram's own. We get aboard and it looks more like a Combino interior than a Citadis - weird. Right on the knocker it takes off, with a PA announcement about doors closing. Like the JFK shuttle it's completely driverless. There's no motor noise - it's effectively a cable powered monorail. There's only two vehicles on the system, with a single track and a passing look at the midpoint station. The cables are on opposite sides, so each tram has its own cable. Scaleable it ain't (except by coupling another vehicle behind - depending on the power available through the cable), but for what effectively does the job of a high speed, long distance travelator it's outstanding. Besides looking ubercool for all the visitors to the city.

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